Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘negritude

What’s going on in Harlem? (Mar. 6, 2010)

            “In Manhattan, there is the largest Black agglomeration in the world. Harlem of the 1920’s witnessed the convergence of all kinds of Black people: workers, peasants, students, businessmen, professionals, artists, poets, intellectuals, musicians, adventurers, preachers, criminals, exploiters, and pariahs.  Blacks from north and south USA, from the Caribbean islands, and from Africa flocked to Harlem. Each Black person arrived with his objectives, purposes, needs, and dreams; for all, the essential was this mutual meeting so that prejudices and proscriptions were thrown together within a sphere of contacts and interactions.

            This sympathy of race and union generated a fusion of profound feelings and common experiences. In Harlem of the 20’s Black life discovered its first chances of collective expressions and auto-determination.  Very recently, we had no idea of who we were, much less who were the “others”: We were real problems to ourselves.  Thus, we had to get to work and recognize our dignity and recapture confidence for a new dynamic phase of community Black life.  For every external pressure and challenge an appropriate internal response was demanded.  Blacks migrating from suburbs and small villages to Harlem crossed with a single leap several generations of experiences.

            What is happening in Harlem may not be unique in the world: It was an inevitable reaction.  It is significant and prophetic: a new psychology is transforming Black masses and getting them on the move; they are leading the Black leaders. This new spirit of confidence is repudiating social dependence; the Negros are healing their hypersensitivities and breaking away of their social disillusionment; they are collaborating toward the joint community by taking on their responsibilities.  It is now up to the White majority to change race domination attitudes and begins cultural exchange and the diffusion of brighter lights for integration.” (The new Negro: An interpretation, 1925)

            Alain Locke (1885-1954) is a Black philosopher and intellectual; he was one of the main activists who launched “Harlem Renaissance” movement.  Although Locke studied in Harvard, Oxford, Berlin, and College de France he could not teach but in Black universities when he returned to the USA.  Joining forces with WEB Du Bois and Charles S. Johnson (1893-1956) he established the association of defense for Blacks (NAACP) and issued magazines such as Crisis, Opportunity, and The Negro World.  This Harlem Renaissance influenced the founders of French “Negritude” intellectuals and authors in Paris of the 30’s; many US Black students and intellectuals flocked to Paris in the 50’s.

            Alain Locke assembled reproductions of Black arts, partitions, bibliographies, and discography; Locks’ anthology offered a formidable balance sheet of Blacks productions in art, music, literature and intellectual works of Black issues and problems around the world: Black thinking and feeling was being disseminated. It was a productive reaction of minorities to the segregationist pressures of the White majority.

            Adversity generated solidarity and initiatives to re-enforce self confidence and increased dignity to overcoming inferiority complexes of many generations of slavery and humiliation.  Locke’s activist and work produced the Black movements of the 50’s and 60’s demanding political civil rights.

“Women stand; always standing” (Feb. 21, 2010)

“Our women are standing up in holds, in cabins, in kitchen, on the bridge, facing the wind, the sun, and standing in the blood: Always standing but free. Life is not a spectacle.  A suffering shouting man is not a bear dancing.  My “negritude” is not a stone, a tower, or a cathedral: It plunges in the red flesh of soil.  We did not invent or explore the moon but earth would not be earth without us.  ”

Aime Cesaire (1913-2008) was born in the French Martinique Island.  Brilliant student, he received a grant to attend the university of Louis-le-Grand in Paris in 1931.  Aime met the future and late President of Senegal Sedar Senghor in this school.

Black Paris” of the 30’s was an opportunity and an eye opener to black transcontinental.  He befriended Leon-Gontran Damas and founded in 1934 “The Black Student”, encouraging black students to revise the effects of white dominated culture on the “Negritude” or Negro culture.  His “Notebook of a return to mother land” was the work of a life time and propelled Cesaire into politics.

Cesaire wrote:

“Europe in the last 3 centuries was very lucky in one aspect: It became the crossroad for all kinds of philosophies, cultures, ideas, feelings, and the distributor of human energy.  The question remains: has colonization actually got divergent cultures in contact? I think not.

Not a single human value was a success among all the colonial procedures and elaborates plans. The colonizer ended up a degraded man; he got in touch with his base deepest vile emotions and instincts.

The colonizer resurfaced his racial hatred, endemic violence, and picked and chose moral values that suited the vanquisher.

Two sets of values were adopted relative to rape, violence, human dignity, and human rights:  one set befitting the European and another applicable and accepted for the colonized people.

Europe wallows in statistics of infrastructure achievements. I am interested in the human dimensions. It is in the sacrifices in health, safety, and miseries of the colonized that did the infrastructure work to facilitate trade and commerce for the colonizers.

I am interested in the millions who learned to fear, to feel helpless, to kneel down, and to developing inferiority complexes. I am interested in how tribalism was deepened and expanded to accelerate the divide and rule strategies.

It is such a shame that only finance and mass industrialization prompted Europeans to come in contact with Africa. Colonizing Europe replaced archaic injustices with modern abuses; it confused old inequalities with the odious racism. Colonization has definitely de-civilized the colonizer.




February 2023

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